Consummate travelling hitchhikers that they are, thrift shops tend to be bed bug paradise. Everything bed bugs travel on makes its way through thrift shops over and over again. All it takes to kick off an infestation is one person accidentally bringing an infested item, Trojan horse-like, into the shop. Once they’re in, bed bugs spread out to all the beds, furniture, and clothing they can scuttle over to. Then, you buy one of these infested items, take it home, and… you see where this is going.
A horror story like that is almost enough to make you want to give up thrift shopping for good. Fortunately, we don’t think you have to do that. Instead, by taking a few extra precautions, you can ensure no bed bugs make the migration from thrift shop to home. These are the ten best anti-bed bug tips you can follow when you’re out thrifting. Follow these rules diligently, and you won’t have to worry about the bed bugs biting after a successful day shopping.
1. Turn clothes inside out
Inspect any clothing you’re considering before you purchase it. Carefully examine the seams, pockets, and lining. Literally turn it inside out if possible, and check the inside for signs of bed bugs. Thrift stores wash the clothing they sell, but bed bugs often sneak onto it after it’s been washed and put out.
2. Shake sheets and towels
Bed bugs love to cling to linens and towels because their folds make great natural hiding places. While you’re looking at sheets and towels, give them a vigorous shake out. Then, unfold it and lay it as flat as you can and look for signs of bed bug infestation.
3. Check seams and edges
Bed bugs gravitate toward any spaces that are tight, dark, concealed, and warm. That means they go looking for nooks and crannies on whatever items they’re infesting. When you’re giving that bed, couch, chair, or clothing a once-over, pay special attention to its seams and edges.
Feel around corners, under cushions, and along the edges, zippers, and decorative trimming. Any tight places where bed bugs can hunker down are likely spots, so you have to check all of them.
4. Frame, springs, and undersides
Don’t stop your inspection on the surface, either. If you’re looking at a bed, strip it down to the frame. Check the undersides, zippers, springs, box spring–everything. Don’t forget to take a close look at the frame, too.
Bed bugs can climb on sheer surfaces upside down as long as they have something to cling onto. Don’t forget to pry the headboard away from the wall to check that, too. Go over each individual component of what you’re looking at as thoroughly as possible. Repeat this process after you buy it, too.
5. Flip the cushions
This goes for chairs, couches, and anything else with cushions. Bed bugs can infest the underside or inside of cushions just as easily as they can beds. Flip them over, turn them inside out, and check the corners.
6. Open drawers
It’s obvious in hindsight, but drawers are another perfect location for bed bugs. They’re dark, contained, quiet, and warm. Open drawers on any furniture you’re considering. If you can, you should even take the drawers out entirely to check every side and angle. While you’re checking drawers, make sure you check the bottom and back of the furniture too.
7. Use a flashlight
We don’t blame you for not wanting to bring a flashlight to the thrift store itself. When you get home, however, it’s a good idea to perform another inspection with a flashlight’s help. The light might help you see signs of infestation that you might miss otherwise.
8. Dry it
Heat is the most reliable and effective way to kill bed bugs. Immediately after getting home, you should throw anything you can into your dryer. Run the dryer on high heat settings for about 20 minutes. This will kill bed bugs and any eggs bed bugs hid on the material, preventing future infestations.
Obviously, you can’t dry large pieces of furniture, fragile items, or anything that could damage the inside of the dryer. For these items, consider using a hairdryer to heat particularly vulnerable areas and kill eggs you may not notice.
9. Vacuum it
Thoroughly vacuuming an item after you buy it is additional good way to prevent bed bugs. Remove the head of the vacuum and use the tube to get at hard-to-reach areas you couldn’t usually reach. Throw out the vacuum bag after your finished, or bed bugs you caught could crawl back out.
10. Keep an eye on it
After you bring home a new thrift item, keep a close eye on it for a couple days. If a new pest problem happens after you bring in your thrift item, it’s probably the reason why.
Inspect the thrift item every couple of days to make sure you didn’t miss anything. If you don’t notice any problems within two weeks, you’re probably in the clear. Enjoy your thrift find!
We’re not saying you have to follow every single one of these directions every time you go thrift shopping. The point of these directions is to put you in an appropriately vigilant mindset. Bed bugs aren’t something you should be afraid of, but they are a potential problem to be aware of. After all, a little awareness now could save you a lot of begrudging awareness later.
One more reason you should never fear bed bugs: you have us. If you ever find out you have a bed bug infestation, just give Plunkett’s a call right away. No matter where they are or how established they’ve become, we’ll find them and kick them out, permanently.BACK TO BLOG